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Full transcript of the interview - British Library - Sounds

Full transcript of the interview - British Library - Sounds

Full transcript of the interview - British Library -

THEATRE ARCHIVE PROJECThttp://sounds.bl.ukThelma Barlow – interview transcriptInterviewer: Gregory Povey14 March 2006Actress. Bristol Old Vic; Birmingham Rep; critics; Edinburgh Festival; female theatremanagers; Liverpool; Glasgow; Nottingham; repertory; repertoire; theatre grants;Theatre Workshop; touring; West of England Theatre Company.GP: So how did you get into theatre?TB: Well… I have to give background: my father died before I was born, and so therewas no money in the house at all, because ladies weren’t… there weren’t jobs for ladiesto go out to work, so my mum couldn’t work for quite a while. And so by the time I wassort of senior school there wasn’t enough money to let me do School Cert and go on anextra year, so I had to go out to work as soon as possible. I did a short-hand typingcourse, I went to night-school to do more, decided after two or three years it was veryboring [laughs] and did drama and speech training at night school – purely arbitrarychoice. Just plumped for that. No, no possible idea one could ever become an actress, itwas just an interest. I did a lot of amateur work, and the amateur groups in the northwere very active and very competitive. And worked in Huddersfield and Bradford wherethere was a drama school, so a lot of those students, when not working, would do thedirection or act in the plays, so it became – I realised afterwards that it felt very muchlike a professional company, and the standards were high and the plays were wonderful,we did such a wonderful variety of plays there. And then eventually I realised I wasenjoying the night-work much more than my day job, so set off for London. I only knewone person, I didn’t know how to get in the theatre or anything, but met at TheatreWorkshop – oh, I met Ewan MacColl, who was a great folk singer and worked with JoanLittlewood at Theatre Workshop. I met him on the radio, I started doing radio in thenorth, and he said, ‘Well, if ever you come to London, get in touch with JoanLittlewood’ – my life’s been blessed, charmed. So I did that, she auditioned me, whichwas terrifying, and put me into this one play, which was because her own company hadstarted to be successful and they were transferring one of their plays, The Good SoldierSchweik, to the Embassy at Swiss Cottage and she got together a sort of scratchcompany just to put something on for Theatre Workshop, an adaptation of hers calledThe Chimes, Charles Dickens… so because of their very strong political principles there,the poor were all good and the rich were all bad [laughs] and so it was a veryunbalanced piece, I think! But interestingly enough, Michael Caine was in it, one of hisearly jobs. I had met up with another friend from the north who wrote plays – AnthonyGill [Hooley?] – and he said ‘Let’s put on a play that I’ve written about a SecondComing, let’s do it in a church.’ Now this was 1954,http://sounds.bl.uk Page 1 of 13

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Full transcript of the interview - British Library - Sounds
Full transcript of the interview - British Library - Sounds
Full transcript of the interview - British Library - Sounds
Full transcript of the interview - British Library - Sounds
Full transcript of the interview - British Library - Sounds
Full transcript of the interview - British Library - Sounds
Full transcript of the interview - British Library - Sounds